“To get any fresher than this, you’d have to go pick it yourself!” is the response you’re likely to hear from any vendor at the Fall Farmers Market in Benton, Louisiana. Each Sunday in October, the Simpson Street Park in downtown Benton is the place for local growers to sell the vegetables and fruits of their labors going on four years in a row. The Fall Market has been an outgrowth of the Summer Market and was ushered in as an idea by Ellan Cathcart a volunteer who serves as the market manager. “This whole area’s population has just exploded the past few years in this part of North Bossier Parish,” explains Ellan. “A few years ago, I wondered if a Fall Market would work and my husband was Mayor of Benton at the time. I came up with something new back then and everyone was very supportive of the idea and so here it is four years later.”
And ever since, the Fall Market in Benton has really caught on with local growers as it offers a family-friendly place for them to sell their produce. “People who come here can expect to see a lot of homegrown, locally-grown vegetables,” says Ellan. “This Fall Market we have six local growers but there’s more than that.”
Ellan is especially proud of the fact that since the market is located in a park with a playground, it allows for a family-friendly atmosphere. She explains other attractions also add to a kid-friendly experience. “Last Sunday we had a petting zoo. A lot of kids have never been around farm animals like goats; we had a llama, pony-rides and even a cow-pulled train that goes around the park too!”
In addition to the fresh produce are displays selling homemade jams, jellies, salsas, and relish. There’s also a lot of crafts that were made from reclaimed materials which is a requirement, explained Ellan. “Crafts are more reclaimed vintage stuff. Someone has taken old pallets and painted them, some are birdhouses made from reclaimed metal. So we’re more into homemade crafts and that’s our requirement.” And there’s special appearances from local bands that provide live music too. Even live cooking demonstrations from the LSU-Agcenter providing live cooking demos showing healthier ways to cook.
There’s also special groups like Walter Jacobs Park, a nature center near Blanchard that brings live birds like owls, eagles, and hawks. “They even brought a live vulture for the kids to see last time and that was really popular with the kids to see one up close like that,” explained Ellan. “That’s definitely something you don’t get to see every day!” Something else you’re certain to not see every day is the upcoming Halloween-themed farmers market to take place October 29th. “Everyone will dress up, all the vendors will dress up,” Ellan enthusiastically explained. “Kids are encouraged to put on their Halloween costumes and they might get to do some trick-or-treating. We’ll have a photo-op set up where families can take pictures, it’s going to be a harvest look so bring your cameras.”
The Benton Farmers Fall Market runs every Sunday through October 29th from 1-4pm. It’s located at Simpson Street Park on 495 Simpson Street, Benton, Louisiana. Telephone: (318) 584-5977 www.bentonlafarmersmarket.com